Environmental Politics, Think
Environews: November 2012
Roadless rule rules; hunters, anglers support conservation; preparing for Utah’s climate future; Coral Pink Sand Dunes: Beetle habitat or off-road playground; welcome back, Tim!; Sen. Hatch joins Herbert’s land-grab effort; vote for the environment.
by Amy Brunvand
Roadless rule rules!
In October the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request from the State of Wyoming to review the legality of the Clinton-Era Roadless Rule, probably the most significant conservation action taken by the federal government since the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Roadless Rule prohibits building new roads in inventoried areas of U.S. National Forests with the intention of preventing environmental damage from excessive road-building. Even though the Roadless Rule doesn’t stop multiple-use development of timber, oil & gas or minerals, it does serve to protect the wildest parts of our public forests from development. Utah national forests include about four million acres of inventoried Roadless Areas.
Meanwhile, on Utah BLM land, a federal District Court judge has refused to stop Uintah County from paving the Seep Ridge road through the Book Cliffs which will create a shortcut for oil & gas trucks through one of the largest areas in the lower 48 states without paved highways. Biologists with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are concerned that increased traffic and human access will affect one of the state’s premier deer herds, which is located in the Book Cliffs.
Hunters, anglers support conservation
Republican anti-conservation politics are out of step with anglers and hunters, who tend to vote Republican. According to the 2012 National Survey of Hunters & Anglers commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation, 47% of survey respondents agreed with the statement, “Gun rights are important, but conservation is just as important,” while an additional 13% believed that conservation is more important than gun rights; 88% of survey respondents thought that, “prior to the federal government issuing a lease to oil and gas companies to drill on public land, the various resources and uses of that land should be considered including fishing and hunting, protection of wildlife habitat and ensuring air and water are kept clean.”
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 20% of Utahns over 16 have participated in fishing or hunting.
Preparing for Utah’s climate future
Utah is woefully unprepared for the impacts or warmer temperatures, says a new report from the Utah Rivers Council. The report “Crossroads Utah: Utah’s Climate Future” takes a wide-ranging view of Utah’s climate future and how to prepare and adapt for impacts on water issues such as agriculture, river flows, and the ski economy. The State of Utah needs to promote better water conservation efforts, and implement a more realistic conservation goal (for instance, the City of Albuquerque has managed a 40% reduction in municipal/industrial water use). Another top priority is phasing out water subsidies in order to make water users pay true costs. Look for this issue to come up when the 2013 General Session of the Utah Legislature.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes: Beetle habitat or off-road playground?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes listing the Coral Pink Sand Dune Tiger Beetle as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and designating 2,276 acres of critical habitat for the species. Tiger beetles are beautiful pink winged predators with metallic green heads. The biggest threat to Tiger Beetle habitat is ORV use through direct mortality and injury, and by reducing prey base and soil moisture. Kane County opposes the listing because Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a destination for recreational off-road vehicles.
regulations.gov. Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2012-0053
Welcome back, Tim!
Climate activist and Peaceful Uprising founder Tim DeChristopher is out of prison and living in a Salt Lake City halfway house with work release time for his new job: working on social justice issues for the First Unitarian Church. However, he will probably not be able to get work release to attend the Salt Lake City premiere of “Bidder 70,” a film about his civil disobedience and the aftermath, on November 14.
Bidder 70 . Nov. 14, 6:30 p.m. Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W 300 S.
Sen. Hatch joins Herbert’s land grab effort
Under the guise of supporting hunting and fishing, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has joined Governor Gary Herbert’s effort to take the “public” out of Utah’s public lands. Hatch has written an amendment to Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-MT) Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525) that bundles together some of the most extreme anti-environmental proposals. If it passed, Hatch’s amendment would not only require that all federal lands in Utah be turned over to the state (including the national parks), it would also exempt Utah from the Antiquities Act of 1906, and remove grey wolves from Endangered Species Act protection in Utah.
Vote for the environment
Want better representation for environmental issues? Before you head to the polls on Tuesday, November 6, check out the Sierra Club Utah Chapter Political Committee Endorsements for 2012.